04 Oct

low blow

Who taught: Huffington Post and NBC

low blow

low blow

Every time I think about learning something new, I also think about learning a skill, not simply acquiring knowledge, like learning a new language. It takes a lot of effort to be able to get better at any language.

It will need hundreds or thousands of pages to talk about learning a new language and by no means I am not an expert in that area.

But what I can do is to speak from my experience. A lot of non-native English speakers, including me, have experienced “blank” moments when native English speakers speak English, especially when it is fast.

It needs a lot of practices. What kind of practices? Well, here is what I do.

Watch TV shows for two or three hours a day.

What do I watch? I do watch news shows. Almost every day, I watch NBC nightly news at 6:30 pm and CBS Evening News at 7 pm. Those are very good because their anchors’ pronunciation is so clear and slow to follow. As I watch, I do my best to speak aloud what Brian and Scott say. In fact, my strategy is almost like impersonating them.

But, you would hardly hear people speaking that slowly with that kind of almost perfect pronunciation. To overcome this, there is my next step.

Watch comedy TV shows!

Modern Family, Big Bang Theory, and Two and a Half Man are the ones I enjoy watching. In doing so, you would hear a lot of expressions and jargons you would never get to hear from news shows.

So, the point is that you do need to be very specific and have a plan to hear English around you as much time as you can. That’s the starting point. Think about it! What could you even say if you cannot understand what other people are talking about?

From today, set a specific goal, make a plan, and act on it!

Yesterday Morning, I was watching NBC Today show and one story caught my attention. There is a TV anchor in a local broadcasting company and she got an email that criticizes her look. And, she reacted, pointing out that it is a perfect example of bullying. She was on NBC to talk more about the situation and during her interview this is what she said;

That email was a low blow.

At that moment, I remembered a Huffington Post article about Samsung’s advertisement, mocking Apple fanboys.

When it posted the article to its facebook page, it said, “Samsung’s new ad bashes the iPhone 5. Is it a low blow?” What is your feeling or the first impression when you hear this expression? One thing I really like about this one is that it really rhymes. “low” and “blow

You know what I think? I think of pain because of ….. hmm (a little embarrassing)…. a kick to my genitalia. That would totally hurt me. I mean, that is so cruel. Don’t you agree? I gave you an example of physical attack but there is also a verbal attack. That’s what that anchor meant when she said, “That email was a low blow.”

As a side note, you would find a lot of English expressions that rhymes. My recommendation is to try to speak aloud when you hear any new expression to see whether it rhymes or not. Chances are it will.

If your friends say something cruel to you, you can say, “Dude. That’s a low blow.” I just hope no one really kick you to have you experience a physical low blow.


31 Mar

couch surfing and muffin top

Who taught : Jessy

muffin top (source: http://everythingarie.wordpress.com/)

Hello, my friends! Where are you now? I am not just asking whether you are at home, office, or somewhere else. I am asking where you are sitting in. Are you in your chair or couch?

When Jessy and I moved into the current apartment one and half years ago, we decided to buy a sofa. It is pretty long one. Ever since that time, we have spent a lot of time in the sofa, reading, watching TV, talking, eating and sometimes sleeping. Don’t you think we, people, do spend long hours in sofa, or couch, doing a lot of things? I am glad that I invested a little bit more money for the sofa than I usually spend on things. I now strongly believe it’s worth it.

A few months ago, we were sitting in the sofa as usual and Jessy asked me a question, “Hey! Do you know what ‘muffin top’ means?” “You are not talking about the top of a muffin, are you?” said I. And she said, “Of course not! It is an expression.” It was hard for me to come up with the meaning of it. She said, “It is the fat that are pushed out at the top of one’s pants. Mainly when people wear tight jeans.” “Huh! What a great one! That is awesome,” said I.

And, a few days ago, watching NBC Nightly news, I heard Brian Williams was talking about new expressions that were newly added into Oxford English Dictionary. Do you know what is one of them? That’s right. It is muffin top. Are you curious what else were added?

1. OMG (Oh My God!)

2. FYI (For Your Information!)

3. LOL (Laugh Out Loud)

4. couch surfing (?????)

This number 4 was new to me. What the hack is couch surfing? Is it like people physically trying to surf on couch for fun or what? So, I looked it up and Urban Dictionary says….

A cheap form of lodging used mainly by college-students or recent college-grads, where one stays on acquaintance’s couches rather than a hotel.

Have you ever done couch surfing? Why is it surfing? Shouldn’t it be like couch lodging or couch settling?

The world is continuously changing. There are new words and old words. They are coming and going. You should keep abreast of those new expressions. In that sense, Oxford Dictionary is way slower than Urban Dictionary. 🙂

By the way, today’s post is 200th one. I feel like I hit a milestone. It took me one year and one month to reach 200th. At this time, I would like to thank you for your support and help, my friends. Hope I can really help your English and to see you more often here! Have a great day!

17 Dec

product, tool

Who taught: Brian Williams

Tool (source: http://peb.pl/albumy-rock-and-metal)

When I was young, I did not understand why my parents always wanted to watch news programs, especially, when there were some TV shows my brother and I really wanted to watch. You know what happened? Now, I love watching news programs. They are informative and fun as well. I watch two news programs. One is NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams (7 pm est) and CBS Evening News with Katie Couric (7:30 pm est). CBS one is more fun to watch. Katie uses a few fun expressions often. FYI, people here in the U.S. say “Do not watch any news from Fox channel.” Why? I do not know. Why don’t you try to ask your American friends the reason?

The other thing I want to point out is that news programs are amazingly useful to practice English. While watching them, I usually do the followings.

1. Listen very carefully to find out new words or expressions. I will get back to you later on this.

2. Listen very carefully to learn the sentences what anchors say. They are using very simple but great sentences.

3. Speak what anchors say! As soon as they say something, I myself speak them again out loud. I really try to mimic them in terms of voice and pronunciation. This way, I practice pronunciation and also it is a perfect way of practicing t0 listen and speak as fast as possible.

Getting back to the new words, a few days ago, I was watching NBC Nightly News and Brian Williams was talking about people who died on that day and he used a very interesting word. He said, “He is a product of Ohio and died today……” As soon as I heard it, I was quite surprised because that was the first time I heard the word, product, to describe a person. I have always thought product is the word that can be only used to describe things, not people. Well, I am a product of South Korea. How about you?

In this sense, there is another word which really sounds like it should be used to describe things but can be used in relation to people. It is “TOOL.” So, you can say like, “You are such a tool.” Wait!! You gotta keep reading. Here is the definition of the expression.

A fool. Characterized by low intelligence or self-esteem.

This expression is typically used for male. (Why? Who is using tools?) So, you would not want to use this often. Not a good expression at all. But, if you happen to be a guy and someone uses this expression to you, it is hard to understand if you do not know the meaning. You would be like, “Is he saying that I am good at dealing with tools or what?” So, again, it is really good to know these expressions to be able to protect yourself from being teased and participate in conversations properly.